Anime Underground

The Best Anime Series Of All Time

List Rules
Japanese animated TV series only

Looking for good anime to watch? Here are the best anime shows of all time, ranked by fans everywhere. Top anime series include popular shows like Death Note, Attack on Titan, and many more. Plus, with so much new anime debuting each year, the list of best anime will only grow. The blanket term "anime" in the US can refer to any animation originating in Japan, and specifically differentiates a few aspects of Japanese animation from more Western styles. For example, the top comedy animes can be be much more explicit in their humor. This includes the Japanese propensity to feature adult themes, cool action scenes, and stories in animation, as opposed to Western "cartoons" aimed primarily at children, as well as the exaggerated, fantasy-oriented and colorful style of Japanese animated visuals.

Anime TV series first found popularity outside of Japan in the 1980s and have continued to find larger audiences in the West. A number of famous anime shows originating in Japan - such as Cowboy Bebop or Dragon Ball Z - have found enthusiastic audiences for dubbed versions in English speaking countries. The anime style has grown so popular in the US, it has stared to significantly influence the style and aesthetics of American animation. Shows such as Avatar: The Last Airbender, Afro Samurai, and Samurai Jack have borrowed heavily from anime in terms of pacing, subject matter, and design.

Ranking the greatest anime ever is certainly a difficult task, but it's time to settle this once and for all: which of the most popular anime shows crack the top 100., the top 10, or even the top 10 anime of all time?

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list ordered by
  • Debuting in 2013, Attack on Titan has become the gold standard for what an excellent anime should be. The voice acting is superb, the animation is beautiful, and with a story that subverts expectations every step of the way, it's a master class in how to make a story come full circle and flip everything the viewer thought they knew on it's head. With two of IMDB's top ranking television episodes of all time in “Hero” and “Perfect Game,” it's no wonder that Attack on Titan is widely considered one of the best anime of all time.

  • If you're a manga purist who thinks anime adaptations should always be faithful to the source material, then you undoubtedly consider Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood to be the superior version of Hiromu Arakawa's masterpiece known simply as Fullmetal Alchemist. Following two genius alchemists on a journey to get their bodies back, this series is a must-watch for anyone who calls themselves a fan of anime. If you don't fall in love with Edward or his brother Alphonse, you'll be hopelessly attached to the show's fantastic set of supporting characters like Scar, Roy Mustang, or the homunculus Greed.

  • Who else remembers the debut episode of Naruto Shippuden? Any hardcore shonen anime fan can still remember the first time they heard the show's first opening intro “Hero's Come Back!!” back in 2007, where the series immediately jumped into an incredible story arc that instantly upped the stakes from the original Naruto series by taking viewers to the Hidden Sand Village and introducing them to Akatsuki members like Sasori and Deidara. Simply put, anime fans hadn't seen a successor series like Naruto Shippuden since Dragon Ball Z, and it's unclear that any anime sequel has lived up to that hype since.

  • Can you really call yourself an anime fan if you're not intimately familiar with the adventures of Gon Freecess and his adventures in Hunter x Hunter? If you've only seen the beginning of this epic anime, you have no idea just how dark a seemingly innocent shonen series can really get (looking at you Chimera Ant Arc.) If Hunter x Hunter author Yoshihiro Togashi hadn't gone on what now feels like a permanent hiatus, there's a good chance this popular shonen anime would widely be  considered the greatest anime ever made.

  • What's your favorite memory of the original Naruto anime? Is it the Chunin Exams Arc? The Sasuke Recovery Mission? It's hard to say what the modern shonen anime scene would look like had Masashi Kishimoto never written Naruto, but thankfully we don't have to speculate. From the insanely catchy opening themes to the badass fights that still stick in our heads today, Naruto will go down as not only one of the best, but also as one of the most influential anime ever made.

  • “The human whose name is written in this note shall die.” If the premise of Death Note doesn't grab you immediately, watch a few episodes and you'll immediately be hooked by one of the greatest cat and mouse detective stories the world has ever known. Even after all these years anime fans are still arguing about whether or not Light Yagami is a villain, which is a testament to Tsugumi Ohba's ability to create compelling and multi-dimensional characters. Some say the series falters in the second half, but either way Death Note is still undoubtedly one of the top anime you can watch in 2022, especially if you're new to the medium.

  • What started as a popular webcomic ended up becoming perhaps the best satire series that any longtime anime fan can appreciate. Although newer anime fans can greatly enjoy One Punch Man for its humor and beautiful fight sequences, it's the hardcore fans who have experienced every shonen anime trope who will really appreciate the brilliant satire this series delivers. It's hard to imagine a show about a dude who can destroy anyone in a single punch could sustain itself for very long, but its been running for over a decade now with no sign of slowing down.

  • Although superhero stories had exploded in the west with the arrival of cinematic universes like the MCU and DCEU, the anime world largely did its own thing and paid little attention to the growing fascination of traditional superheroes…until Kohei Horikoshi created My Hero Academia. This series about students who are training to be heroes took the world by storm in the 2010s, quickly becoming one of the most popular anime on the planet. When you talk about the big shonen anime that exist today, this MHA must be included.

  • Even with much criticism for how the source material was adapted for the anime's second season, Tokyo Ghoul is still good enough to be considered a contender for one of the greatest anime ever made. The dark fantasy series follows protagonist Ken Kaneki as he descends into a violent underworld after being bitten by a ghoul. If you love anime where the MC becomes a completely different person by the end of it, then Tokyo Ghoul is about as good as it gets.

  • If you ask any anime fan in 2022 what their favorite new anime is, the odds are extremely high that it will be Demon Slayer. Given that it doesn't stray far from the typical shonen formula, it's hard to pinpoint exactly why this series is seeing so much success- is it the incredible fight sequences? The gorgeous animation? The wonderful voice acting? No matter why you like this series, it can't be understated just how popular it has become since its debut in 2019. It's already one of the top 10 best selling manga series of all time, and the franchise altogether has generated billions of dollars.

  • Where were you when you watched Goku turn Super Saiyan for the first time? If you grew up in America, coming home after school and watching Dragon Ball Z on Toonami was likely your gateway drug that made you an anime fan for life. It's hard to argue that Dragon Ball Z isn't the most influential anime ever made, with so many series that followed taking inspiration from Akira Toriyama's masterpiece.

  • How cool would it be to suddenly have the ability to make someone do whatever you say while simultaneously leading a rebellion against the empire that exiled you? You can probably already tell that this series is filled with a ton of drama, tragedy, and supernatural powers. In this action-packed mecha series, Lelouch vi Britannia vows to take revenge on his father with the help of the the Japanese rebels, known as Elevens, in an alternate world. The series is also produced by Sunrise, a studio well-known for their other mecha franchise Gundam, so that should you a good idea of what you're missing if you haven't already seen this masterpiece.

     

  • The Seven Deadly Sins is a fantastical adventure anime filled with action, magic, and demons that takes place in a Midde-Age European setting. The story follows a young princess named Elizabeth Liones and her journey to take back her kingdom from the Holy Knights with the help of Meliodas and his bands of knights properly named the "Seven Deadly Sins.” Yes, they each bear one of the seven deadly sins and their personalities reflect thats as well, which leads to interesting character interactions. There's also a cute talking pig, and who doesn't like talking animal companions?

  • You're an assassin-in-training tasked with killing your teacher. This teacher is also a strange, yellow, octopus-like creature with super powers who destroyed most of the moon. If he isn't killed, he will destroy the Earth. Confused yet? More reason to give this series a chance! Assassination Classroom follows a classroom full of misfits and the ever so strange and elusive Koro-sensei in both their missions to kill and be killed. If you're into action comedies with wacky premises, Assassination Classroom might be a great pick for you.

  • If you grew up watching anime in the early 2000s, you are most likely no stranger to this series. Bleach is a supernatural, action-packed anime that's considered one of the “Big Three” alongside Naruto and One Piece. The story follows Ichigo, a substitute soul reaper, and his journey in learning how to hone his new spiritual powers all the while trying to guide spirits to the afterlife before they becomes dangerous creatures called “Hollows”.

  • Fairy Tail is a story of magic, action, and adventure. Crated by the same mangaka as Rave Master, this anime is just as action-packed and then some. Natsu Dragneel, a Dragon Slayer wizard, is on a search for his missing adoptive father. During his journey, he becomes friends with a celestial wizard, an ice wizard, a magical knight, and another dragon slayer. They embark on a number of different missions together. Whether it's subduing criminals, taking down dark guilds, or defeating ancient demons, they've got your back.

  • Haikyu!! is probably one of the best sports anime to date. The series follows a high schooler named Hinata, an underdog who wants to become a great volleyball player despite his small size. He joins the Karasuno volleyball team and is determined to restore their reputation with his new teammates and rival - star setter Tobio Kageyama. The intense matches along with great character development make the series even more inspiring to watch. It also does a fantastic job of teaching the sport to viewers in an informative yet entertaining way. Whether you're into volleyball or not, this show will hook you immediately.

  • It's safe to say that any project involving Shinichiro Watanabe will most likely be a masterpiece, and Cowboy Bebop does not disappoint. This is another show that many anime fans grew up with in the early 2000s, and it still holds up to this day along with its amazing English dub. The show also has one of the most iconic and catchy opening themes in anime, thanks to the amazing composer Yoko Kanno. Cowboy Bebop follows a ragtag group of bounty hunters who are constantly broke and must collect bounties to survive day-to-day. However, the story gradually goes from light-hearted to tragic as each members' past get dredged up with each passing episode.

  • Parasyte is definitely one for the books when it comes to strange anime. Parasyte: The Maxim follows a high school boy named Shinichi Izumi whose right hand gets taken over by a worm-like alien who failed in taking him as his host. This duo encounters other humans who have been successfully taken as hosts, and they fight for survival while forming a strong bond overtime. Who says you can't befriend an alien that's taken over one of your body parts? Especially when it helps you fight off others who are trying to devour you as food.

  • Imagine being petrified for nearly 4,000 years. Now imagine staying conscious for that long all the while keeping track of every second before being released from your petrified prison. That's exactly what kid genius Senku Ishigami does in Dr. Stone after a mysterious flash of light petrifies nearly all human life. He then sets out to release others from their stone prisons and create a modern society he names the “Kingdom of Science.” But he soon finds out that there are others who don't agree with his version of what modern society should look like. Dr. Stone makes science seem interesting as it follows Senku trying to create something out of raw materials and primitive technology, while also explaining the process to the viewer. If you're into post-apocalyptic shows about survival, then Dr. Stone is a great choice for you.

  • What do you do when you're trying to save your impoverished village, but so much corruption in the area prevents you from doing so? Join a band of assassins, of course. Well, it's not that simple, but it's a start. At leasts that's what Tatsumi does after being saved by them. These band of assassins are called “Night Raid” and they fight specifically against the corrupt empire. Akame ga Kill! is a story that challenges morals and values, and what it means to be an assassin with a cause. Get ready for an action-packed, bloody anime with Akame ga Kill!

  • If you have an appreciation for anime that deviates from the manga, then the original Fullmetal Alchemist is one of those series. Fullmetal Alchemist has the same premise, overarching themes, and beginning arcs as the manga and FMA:Brotherhood, but the ending is completely different to the source material. This was at the request of Arakawa herself as the manga, at the time, was still ongoing. Although it ends differently, the show by itself still holds up pretty well and also has some of the best opening and ending themes in anime.

  • Talk about an anime with a major underdog protagonist. Although it follows the typical shonen formula, Black Clover has a way with foreshadowing future events that will blow your mind. In a world filled with magic wielders, Asta is born without the ability to utilize magic, but still holds onto the dream of one day becoming the Wizard King. He eventually produces a 5-leaf grimoire that contains mysterious swords and is able to utilize anti-magic.  Right now is the best time to catch up as both the anime and manga are on break with the latter coming up on its conclusion.

  • If you're looking for an anime with colorful, explosive art coupled with a catchy opening theme song, Mob Psycho 100 is where it's at. The animation in Mob Psycho 100 is depicted in a way that enhances the supernatural genre. Plus, the action scenes are one of a kind. Since it's made by the same creator of One-Punch Man, anime fans can expect the series to be just as hilarious and wacky. Mob, an average middle schooler, is actually a powerful esper with immense psychic powers and works as an assistant to con-man Reigen Arataka in order to help control his powers.

  • Based on the 2009 visual novel game of the same name, Steins;Gate is a doozy of a show. It follows “mad scientist” Rintaro Okabe and his friends who accidentally discover a form of time travel. Rintaro is determined to figure out a way to reverse people's deaths while also trying to prevent new ones from happening. As everyone knows, time travel can lead to disaster and tragedy, and Steins;Gate has all of that and more making it one of the best time travel anime out there.